The London bombings: Brits keep a stiff upper lip

The week's news at a glance.


There’s nothing like British stoicism, said the London Daily Telegraph in an editorial. Londoners are getting on with their summer—eating ice cream, playing sports—as if terrorists hadn’t just murdered more than 50 of us and wounded hundreds. The city is not “experiencing the same collective trauma” that wracked New York after 9/11 or Madrid after 3/11. Instead, in the week after 7/7, London responded with “quiet restraint.” There was no racist reprisal against Muslims in Britain, who, of course, were victims of the fanatics just like all Britons. “Backlashes happen in panicky and volatile nations. We are not such a nation.” Rather than getting hysterical, we get defiant.

“With a derisive snarl and a clenched fist,” said Gerard Baker in the London Times, the British are asking: “Is this the best they can do?” We are all mourning those lost and maimed by the terrorists. But the attacks are notable less for their success than for their failure. Didn’t we all, deep down, expect the inevitable terrorist strike to be much worse? “There was no ricin, no sarin, no smallpox, no nuclear detonation, no dirty bomb.” Not even hijacked airplanes. Just the same “old-fashioned, 20th-century technique” used in the Madrid train explosions last year, and with far fewer casualties. The damage that four years of war has inflicted on al Qaida is “clearly impressive.” We are beating the terrorists, both in Iraq and across the globe.

If we weren’t in Iraq, said Tariq Ali in the London Guardian, there would have been no bodies in the Underground last week. Londoners, most of whom were opposed to the Iraq war, “have suffered the blow and paid the price” for Britain’s support of the U.S. invasion. The entire war on terror is “immoral and counterproductive,” not to mention hypocritical. “State terror” weapons such as bombardments and torture simply breed more terrorists. Political tactics are generally far more effective. The British government realized that in the case of Irish terrorism, when, after decades of fruitless fighting, they offered the Irish republicans a power-sharing accord. The solution here is just as obvious: It lies “in immediately ending the occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine.”

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Appeasement would be a deadly mistake, said Mark Steyn in the London Daily Telegraph. The jihadis were fighting long before the Iraq and Afghan wars. Remember the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center? And they aren’t remotely concerned about the Palestinians. Take a close look at Britain’s homegrown terrorists, such as Omar Sheikh, the convicted murderer of U.S. reporter Daniel Pearl. He’s a local boy, born in Whipps Cross and educated in Wanstead and London. Like many of his ilk, he was first radicalized by the massacres of Bosnian Muslims in the 1990s—carnage that Europe did nothing to stop—and not by the plight of Palestinians. The government can’t negotiate with such people, not only because to do so would be both repugnant and futile, but also because it simply doesn’t know “the degree of Islamist penetration in the United Kingdom.” How many thousands of British Muslims listen to exhortations to martyrdom at their Friday services? The government’s adherence to multicultural pieties” has made it ignore the threat within British borders for far too long.


Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.